An Engaging Strategy

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So you have succeeded in searching and attracting candidates with all the right qualifications and traits that will enhance the organization and assure that the company has the necessary human assets to meet or exceed the competitive challenges that lie ahead in a highly competitive marketplace.  Now it is time engage those human resources and move forward.

A truly engaged workforce ensures that employees are committed to their organization’s goals and values, are motivated to contribute to organizational success, and are able at the same time to enhance their own sense of well-being. Creating conditions in which employees offer more of their capability and potential, is critical for organizational success. Studies show that highly engaged organizations have lower absenteeism and turnover rates, lower health care costs, fewer safety incidents, and fewer quality control failures, or product defects. So if employee engagement is such an obviously good thing, why do so few companies successfully foster a culture of employee engagement?

Studies indicate that engaged employees are rare. According to Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace report only 30% of US employee’s feel that they are engaged at work. Jim Harter Ph.D., chief scientist at Gallup Research, says, “Many organizations measure either the wrong things, or too many things, or don’t make the data intuitively actionable. Many don’t make engagement a part of their overall strategy, or clarify why employee engagement is important, or provide quality education to help managers know what to do with the results, and in what order.”

Gallop researchers studied 49,928 work units, including nearly 1.4 million employees. The latest study confirms a well-established connection between employee engagement and key performance outcomes: Customer performance ratings; profitability; productivity; employee turnover; safety incidents; shrinkage (theft); absenteeism and performance quality. The Gallup researchers studied the differences in performance between engaged and actively disengaged work units and found that those scoring in the top half on employee engagement nearly doubled their odds of success compared with those in the bottom half. The researchers also found that a strong correlation between engagement and performance are highly consistent across different organizations from diverse industries and regions of the world.

An examination of multiple organizations across several different industries indicates that most successful engagement efforts utilize the three “A’s” strategy of engagement:

Affinity – A basic human need is to believe in something.  Without affinity, or believing in a cause, workers will put their hands and feet to work but not their hearts and minds. Workers who don’t find affinity at work look for it at home or in the community. Organizations with engagement regularly outperform those without it. The sense that the organization needs better engagement usually comes from the realization that workers are less than enthusiastic about their jobs.

Affiliation –Just as with affinity, organizations that do not offer affiliation at work drive workers to find it outside of work. Many workers would pour their efforts into improvement projects if allowed and facilitated to do so. If they find no affiliation at work, they look for it in church, community or charity. The need for affiliation is strong and workers will find something to give them a sense of belonging.

Autonomy – W. Edwards Deming said, “People support what they help create.” Giving workers participation opportunities gives them a feeling of belonging. Allowing them to help create those opportunities for participation gives them pride, ownership and a deep sense of fulfillment that motivates their creativity.

The most highly successful engagement projects make strategic and synergistic use of all three “A’s”. Organizations whose employees strongly believe, firmly belong and creatively contribute to improvement efforts have an operational advantage that cannot be easily offset by any other competitive element.

Software Skills: A Cure for An Anemic Job Market

Java Job

If there’s one job market that isn’t slowing down, it’s tech. As legacy companies continue to digitize and exciting new startups pop up everywhere, Staffing professionals are encountering an increased demand for qualified tech professionals. According to a recent survey from recruiting company Robert Half Technology, 16% of chief information officers plan to expand their teams in the first half of 2014. That means right now employers are looking to fill positions for software engineers, mobile developers and IT managers and Java developers are the most in-demand technology job across the country for the second straight year. More than one in five of the tech jobs openings posted contain some need for Java know-how.

The role of a Java developer has never been an easy one to fill. Last year, Dice.com conducted a survey to prove it. The survey, which polled 866 hiring managers and recruiters that focus on technology, asked which jobs were the most difficult to find qualified candidates for. The answer was clearly Java developers, followed by .Net developers. The survey also sought to learn which sort of skills and experience recruiters expect when they search for new hires. “Asked for experience preference, corporate hiring managers most frequently say IT pros with two to five years in the workforce, followed by those with six to 10 years of experience”, says Alice Hill, managing director at Dice.com, “Competition is fierce when companies are all chasing the same talent, making positions hard to fill.”

Java’s popularity may indicate employers’ rising interest in mobile development. But due to the language’s wide number of development uses, it’s no surprise it snagged first place in the open job competition. Java is very popular for a wide variety of companies, it’s the most common language across the world that developers use and are proficient at, and it’s relevant knowledge for a growing market in Android development.

Those who do not have the required years of Java experience should focus on getting it. This can be done in one of two ways. Job searchers can find work as a low-level programmer at an entry level job and work their way up in the traditional manner until they are ready to branch out in the field. They can also join an open-source Java project or, better yet, start one of their own.

With the unfulfilled demand for experienced developers, estimated by some sources to be nearly 800,000 jobs, waiting for candidates to graduate from a four year college, technical school or university is not an option if the demand is going to be filled anytime in the near future. Companies who are accustomed to demanding candidates with lengthy experience will need to adjust their expectations, at least for those positions where less experienced candidates can fill the void and grow rapidly into more responsible positions.

With the large gap between demand and supply, salaries for qualified hires is expected to increase dramatically as companies in need of experienced talent raise the stakes to lure programmers away from their current employer, a common tactic which is certain to increase challenge many companies are facing in filling much needed positions, but a situation that is sure to put a smile on the face of the much sought after candidates.

The Best Places in America to Find a Job

 

Jobs

This year is expected to be a stronger year for new hires than last year, with 27% of employers planning to hire, according to the National Association for Business Economics, and a projected 8% bump in the number of recent college graduates who land jobs, per the National Association for Colleges and Employers. The economic turmoil and high unemployment over the past several years indicates that even if the job markets experience a better than anticipated performance, it is likely that the turnaround will not be felt equally across the country. As a result, many job seekers will need to expect a significant relocation if they are to be successful in the current job market.

More than 100 million people have moved within the past five years, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, and 48% of unemployed individuals have picked up their roots in search of a job over that timeframe.  This societal mobility stands to be a major asset for job seekers as the economy improves. WalletHub decided to analyze the relative employment opportunities in the 60 largest U.S. cities in order to give people a sense of where on the map the strongest job markets and greatest prospects for long-term financial security can be found.  The study looked at 13 unique metrics, ranging from job openings per capita and industry variety to cost of living and the prevalence of employer-provided health benefits.

Fort Worth, TX comes in at the number one position. Fort Worth boasts the nation’s 5th fastest-falling unemployment rate, the 4th largest proportion of full-time employees, and the 2nd most affordable housing.  Such dynamics, combined with the lack of either a state or local income tax for which Texas is renowned, are enough to make up for middle-of-the pack rankings when it comes to industry variety, health care coverage and the percentage of the workforce living below the poverty line. The State’s largest industry sectors are:  Retail Trade; Professional, Scientific & Technical Services; and Health Care. The State of Texas holds five of the top ten positions in the survey, including Arlington, Dallas, Austin, and Houston.

A larger Federal Government propelled Washington, DC and Arlington, VA into the #2 and #4 spots and Tampa, FL (#3); Seattle WA (#7); Denver CO (#8); and Mesa AZ (#9) rounded-out the top ten. New York City (#59) and Los Angeles (#60) finished dead last in the rankings.

Here are some tips for those who are looking to relocate to find that perfect job opportunity:

  • Use a local address before moving: Employers are more likely to consider “local” candidates, as doing so makes for much simpler logistics in terms of the interview process and the perceived hassle of relocation.
  • Focus on skill acquisition, not salary: A significant skills gap exists in this country. Nearly 40 percent of employers report not being able to find applicants with the requisite skills to fill available jobs.  With salaries expected to rise along with the economic recovery, now might not be a bad time to take a little bit less money in order to gain the experience necessary to take a major step forward in a career.
  • Formulate a customized approach for each employer: Hiring managers can spot a form cover letter from a mile away, and that signals to them both a lack of effort and a certain cluelessness in terms of how to engage with one’s target audience through written communication.
  • Don’t move if the dollars and sense don’t make for good math: The average cost of relocating for work is roughly $12,500, according to Worldwide ERC. Therefore, it is extremely important to consider all costs, both financial and otherwise, before packing-up the family bus.
  • Plan a return homecoming in advance of a move:  The best made plans include an exit strategy. Knowing when and how to retreat if the battle becomes unsustainable will relieve some of the anxiety associated with a major move and the inevitable stress that comes with new environment.

Making a major move away from friends and family is extremely disruptive, particularly if a spouse and children are involved, but in the anemic job market and stagnant economy it is a decision that nearly half of the jobless population is finding necessary in order to find gainful and meaningful employment.

Will Getting Noticed Get You Hired?

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The box was delivered to the New York office of One Fine Stay, a business that arranges short-term accommodations in luxury homes. Stuffed inside was a queen-size pillow in a cheap cotton pillowcase.  A résumé, enlarged to about 24 by 33 inches, was attached to it with cellophane tape. It was torn and blurred from water damage in transit and the writing at the top was too wrinkled to read. The intriguing gimmick didn’t ultimately work for Pillow Guy, so named by the company’s hiring staff.  Amazingly he got a phone call and one interview before being rejected.

After graduating from England’s University of Winchester in 2012, Adam Pacitti sent out 250 résumés for media production jobs over six weeks, yielding exactly two rejection replies. Frustrated with his lack of success, he rented a billboard in central London. Next to a photo of himself, he splashed the words: “I spent my last £500 on this billboard. Please give me a job. He “tweeted” a picture and waited for the effort to go viral. It did, and within a few days, job offers poured in from ad agencies, plumbers, lawyers and others. Now he works at a digital marketing company that contacted him after seeing his billboard via social media.

Sometimes the ploys work, allowing run-of-the-mill candidates to grab a recruiter’s attention and hold it long enough to land a job. In the best cases, they let applicants show that they have devoted some thought to an employer’s brand and culture. Mostly, though, whimsical applications are just good for a laugh.

Employers typically aren’t looking for the most outrageous candidate, they’re looking for the best fit,” said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder. “Thinking outside the box is great, but the stunts that work best are the ones that showcase your relevant skills and abilities. The focus of the interview should be why you would be a great addition to the team, and not what you’re willing to do to get noticed.”

Motivated job seekers should consider doing those things that help to exemplify personal skills and experience. Personal actions should be relevant to the position at hand and prospective employers are more likely to be impressed by a candidate who shows up with ideas, vision and initiative.  Pulling stunts and acting like a jerk may get a job seeker noticed, but unless the position is for a practical joker, it is most likely to get more laughs than serious consideration for the job at hand.

The Threat of Misclassifying Employees

Employee Misclassification

 

The classification of workers as employees or independent contractors has been an area of considerable debate among employers, human resource professional and the IRS for decades.  Job providers have long been practicing creative job classification practices particularly in times of economic challenges when decreasing employment cost becomes increasingly critical to a company’s fiscal survival. Employee classification determines whether an employer is responsible for withholding and paying payroll taxes, providing benefits such as worker compensation, overtime pay and now health insurance.   The implementation of regulations mandated by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will most likely lead to a new wave of employee reclassification, as employers look for ways to navigate around the regulations and survive the significant casts of the mandates.

 

Generally, a worker’s classification is based chiefly on whether an employer has the right to direct or control a worker’s work. The IRS has a 20-factor analysis that can be used to assist an employer in making a determination.  The comprehensive list of factors, while appearing to be all encompassing, is like most bureaucratic definitions of compliance; open to broad interpretation and subjectivity. When IRS auditors analyze whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor, they generally work through the list of different factors before concluding whether a sufficient level of control is present to create an employer-employee relationship. They also look at any other information that helps determine the degree of control and the degree of independence. The IRS generally groups evidence regarding a right to control into three primary categories:

  • Behavioral control – How a worker performs the work, the level of individual instruction and training.
  • Financial control – What are the business aspects of the relationship? Is the worker reimbursed for expenses, receive profit and investment opportunities?
  • Relationship of the parties – Factors related to employee benefits, written contracts, stated intent of parties, discharge and termination and regular business activities.

There are innumerable ways in which employers can exercise control over a worker and there is no clear definition of just how much control is enough to cause a worker to be classified as an employee rather than an independent contractor. Each case depends on an analysis of its own particular set of facts a process that is certain to become even more complicated with the implementation of the ACA.

In order to limit the risk of receiving penalties for unpaid payroll taxes and fines under the ACA, employers should seek qualified and experienced professional consultative services before taking a position that any of your workers are independent contractors.  The IRS has undertaken a focused audit program which is intended to ensure that employment taxes are collected. The audits reportedly will concentrate on small businesses and self-employed persons with under $10 million in assets.

Regardless of the organizations size and scope, errors in this area can have significant tax consequences, including personal liability in some circumstances, and can create costly problems with respect to employee benefit and compensation plans.